What Happened to Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker? – Jim Bakker, a contentious televangelist who was found guilty of fraud and imprisoned in the late 1980s, will be the subject of the latest episode of The Con on ABC. The PTL Club, a Christian television programme that Bakker and his wife Tammy produced and broadcast on the PTL Satellite Network in 1974, was well-known for their work.
After over 31 years of marriage, the pair were divorced in 1992. In advance of Thursday’s premiere of the latest episode of The Con, read on to learn more about Bakker’s relationship with Faye.
Must Read: The Con: How Much Money Did Jho Low Steal?
Who Is Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker?
James Orsen Bakker, an American televangelist and admitted scammer, was born on January 2, 1940. Between 1974 to 1987, Bakker co-hosted The PTL Club with his then-wife Tammy Faye on the PTL Satellite Network, a cable television service. In Fort Mill, South Carolina, he also created Heritage USA, a Christian theme park that no longer operates.
Bakker left the PTL ministry in the late 1980s due to a cover-up involving hush money given to church secretary Jessica Hahn for alleged rape. Later, accounting fraud disclosures resulted in felony charges, conviction, incarceration, and divorce. Later, Bakker got remarried and started doing televangelism again, starting Morningside Church in Blue Eye, Missouri, and restarting the PTL ministry. He presently broadcasts The Jim Bakker Show, which highlights the Second Coming of Christ and the end times while highlighting emergency survival gear. I Was Wrong and Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead are two of the books authored by Bakker.
The son of Raleigh Bakker and Furnia Lynette “Furn” Irwin, James Orsen Bakker was born in Muskegon, Michigan. Bakker met Tammy Faye LaValley while both were students at North Central University, a Minneapolis bible school connected to the Assemblies of God. Tammy Faye worked at the Three Sisters, a local boutique, and Bakker worked in a café within the Minneapolis Young-Quinlan department store.
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were among the most famous televangelists in America when their religious empire came crashing down amid sex and financial fraud scandals. Watch our encore #ABC2020 “Unfaithfully Yours” now on ABC or your favorite streaming app. https://t.co/JlwoTMsw8q pic.twitter.com/geUKILkYE2
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) December 21, 2019
On April 1st, 1961, the Bakkers got married and dropped out of school to start travelling as evangelists. They had two kids: Jamie Charles “Jay” Bakker (born December 18, 1975) and Tammy Sue “Sissy” Bakker Chapman, born on March 2, 1970. The divorce was finalised on March 13, 1992. Fifty days after they first met, on September 4, 1998, Bakker wed former televangelist Lori Beth Graham. They adopted five kids in 2002.
PTL funds were used to pay Jessica Hahn, who claimed that Bakker and former PTL Club co-host John Wesley Fletcher drugged and assaulted her, a $279,000 compensation in exchange for her quiet. PTL’s financial choices were determined by Bakker, who allegedly kept two sets of records to hide questionable accounting practices. Charles Shepard-led journalists from The Charlotte Observer looked into PTL’s finances and wrote several pieces.
The Charlotte Observer’s coverage of the fundraising efforts of the PTL Club between 1984 and 1987 eventually resulted in Bakker being charged with a crime. During that time, Bakker and his PTL colleagues offered $1,000 “lifetime memberships” that gave customers the right to a yearly three-night stay at a five-star hotel at Heritage USA. At Bakker’s fraud trial, the prosecution alleged that despite selling tens of thousands of memberships, only one 500-room hotel was ever completed. Bakker sold more “exclusive partnerships” than the hotel could accommodate, more than double the amount needed to fund construction. Most of the funds covered Heritage USA’s operating costs, while Bakker kept $3.4 million.
Bakker was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned his conviction and ordered a fresh sentencing hearing in February 1991. The judge’s use of his religious convictions to influence Bakker’s punishment was determined by the court to have occurred when Potter said in his sentencing remarks about Bakker that “those of us who do have a religion are sick of being saps for money-grubbing preachers and priests.”
On November 16, 1992, a sentence-reduction hearing was placed, and Bakker’s sentence was lowered to eight years. He was moved to a federal minimum-security facility in Jesup, Georgia, in August 1993. Bakker served almost five years of his sentence before being granted parole in July 1994.
His son Jay led a letter-writing campaign urging mercy to the parole board. After promising that he “would guarantee that Mr. Bakker would never again engage in the blend of religion and commerce that led to his conviction,” famous attorney Alan Dershowitz took up the position of Bakker’s parole counsel. On December 1, 1994, Bakker freed from Federal Bureau of Prisons custody despite owing the IRS $6 million.
What Happened to Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker?
The duo became well-liked among their following because of their endearing on-screen personas as hosts.
Despite the outward appearance of happiness, their relationship began to suffer. Tammy began to experience home loneliness as Jim built the PTL Network, according to Biography. She mentioned that people started noticing the couple’s conflicts in her memoir, Telling It My Way.
After it was revealed that Jim Bakker had given Jessica Hahn, a church secretary, $279,000 in hush money after she accused him and another televangelist named John Wesley Fletcher of drugging and raping her in a Florida hotel room, things became much worse. When this information became public, Jim left PTL.
For a while, there had been questions about The PTL Club’s fundraising efforts, and soon after that, a criminal investigation was started. Jim was found guilty of several charges of mail and wire fraud in 1989, in addition to one count of conspiracy. He received a 45-year prison term. Tammy never faced charges.
Three years later, they got divorced. It is unknown what caused the divorce specifically. But in I Will Survive, her autobiography,… You will as well, Tammy said (obtained via Nicki Swift),
”It took me three years to finally make the decision to divorce Jim. Three years of praying, talking to Christian psychologists, talking to my friends who know both Jim and me, and looking within myself … I did not take divorce lightly.”
According to Biography, Tammy informed her Florida church in a letter about her choice to divorce Jim Bakker. Read the letter (obtained via Biography), ”For years I have been pretending that everything is all right, when in fact I hurt all the time.”
Later, in 1993, Tammy remarried Roe Messner, a builder. In 2007, after receiving a colon cancer diagnosis, she passed suddenly. After being released from prison, Jim Bakker went back to televangelism and, with his second wife Lori, whom he married in 1998, launched a programme called The Jim Bakker Show.
On September 1, 2022, don’t forget to watch The Con – The Comeback on ABC.